Thursday, June 22, 2006

Academia Blues

That essay I wrote during the unearthly small hours of last week came back from the tutor the other day.

I thought it was such an appalling load of facile rubbish that I couldn't even bring myself to open the envelope and confront the inevitable scathing critique. But today I had to, because I had a tutorial this evening. And bugger me if it doesn't have comments like 'this is really exciting!' (for a bit I wrote about Sandi Thom, for Christ's sake), and 'this would make an excellent PhD research topic!', for a bit I wrote about how we all work for Google now.

I can only think of four five possible explanations:

1. Academic standards have dropped so far that a hastily cobbled-together paragraph about the Arctic Monkeys now counts as a work of considerable scholarship.

2. My tutor is insane.

3. My tutor is patronising me.

4. I am doing the most Mickey Mouse degree ever*.

5. My tutor fancies me. (Highly unlikely, but he is quite nice**, so I thought I might as well put it in).

I'm inclining towards 2., since a section I wrote describing what the internet is made of (servers and hubs and puppy dogs' tails) elicited the comment 'I had no idea about this!'.

Next essay is on 'things people make in the blogosphere'. If anyone's seen any cool things (writing, art, photography, comics, poetry, music, recipes, knitting patterns, bits of code that do stuff etc.) that bloggers have made with their own little typing fingers, please do let me know. I *am* doing my own research, honest. I just wouldn't want to miss anything really great.


* I can't make up my mind about this. Sometimes cultural studies seems like this really brilliant secular belief system that explains everything we see around us without having to invoke some invisible, omnipotent Creator (sorry Dave). Other times it seems just to consist of a lot of people spouting a lot of incomprehensible polysyllabic guff about not much.

** I've just remembered I gave him and my fellow MA Pop Culters the address of this blog, oh dear.


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34 comments:

Dave again said...

'He's quite nice' is a patronising put-down anyway, so I don't suppose he'll get the wrong idea.

Dave again said...

Actually, I just wrote that to see if my new, post-cricket picture worked.

patroclus said...

Crikey Dave, your beard seems to have shifted by an order of latitude!

Billy said...

There is another possibility - your ability to critically assess your own work has completly gone to pot.

Dave again said...

No, I've just stopped shaving my head, now I no longer play cricket.

patroclus said...

I considered that possibility, Billy, but I stand by my judgment that it really was awful. If I was braver I would post some choice excerpts by way of demonstration.

rockmother said...

Ooops. Don't forget - although there are millions of bloggers out there - most people aren't quite sure exactly what blogging or a blog is.

For bits of code that do stuff (sorry I don't do technical speak) go to Ivan Pope's site www.snipperoo.com

patroclus said...

Thanks Rockmother for reminding me that the word I should have used for 'bits of code that do stuff' is 'widget'. See what I mean?

That's a great site, thank you!

Pashmina said...

Sympathies. I stopped telling people I have met in person about my blog once I realised my mother-in-law had read it. Oh and after my niece purloined one of my posts for her own website, at which I was unreasonably peeved (she's 12).

- anxious moment -
I don't suppose any of them have worked out how to follow links to other blogs yet though.

treespotter said...

there's a guy who knit a jumper for a tree. is that weird enough?

or this have to do with blogging?

people also say i'm weird so you can research me. i'm free.

i don't have any widget tho. i'm widget free*

*I'm also feeling shit and weird today, but that's a different thing.

the Beep said...

this guy seems to be doing stuff relevant to bloggers, especially those (Pashmina) who have sufferd plagiarism. HE even has a call back facility...

... may be of interest to your thesis.

http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/

Interpreter Pavlov said...

Always a difficult problem. Could be a lot worse: he could have slated it for reasons you hadn't expected. He too will have a largely hidden agenda, like having quotas of excellence to fulfil, not being left at the bus-stop when your bandwagon rolls by, magpie-ing your ideas and putting them in his own nest. In any case his remarks must have put a new edge on your critical scalpels.

I'm sure your blog-meynie is enormously proud of you.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Reading over these comments got me thinking about something i'd been sort of oblivious to before: when creating their web identities a lot of people associate themselves with someone famous. Right here we have Groucho Marx, Patroclus (of Iliad fame), Pavlov, and Chaucer. I suspect there's some intersting psychology behind this, something to do with wanting to magnify and project a particular element of your own personality by usurping the identity of a well-known individual who personifies that element. Mind you, I could be full of crap.

rockmother said...

P - I thought about saying 'widget' but thought that was sonething that kept beer cold in the can!

CB - good point

patroclus said...

Interesting stuff, CB. Believe it or not, I chose the name Patroclus when registering for the Channel 4 comedy forum two years ago, because it was the first thing that came into my head.

I don't really identify with a male, bisexual Greek warrior, I don't think...

rockmother said...

Yeah - I'm not a biker chick or anything. My colleagues called me Rockmother because I am a mother and I rock (apparently). And it kind of stuck. Now it is shortly to become a brand identity and company. I play up to it now again - especially on Bob Swipe's blog.

GreatSheElephant said...

I find all this quite encouraging when it comes to contemplating my own academic efforts. If only I could get started.

With regards to CB's comment - interesting. I think I shall blog about it.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Treespotter: it was a girl, ackshully.

P: you're seriously giving me licence to send you bloggy knitting stuff? Seriously? You haven't had enough of my unsolicited "research contributions" yet? Well... okay! *bounces*

Also, while I firmly believe that your essay is really interesting (honest) and I would totally like to read it, I have also come to form a very, very dim opinion of Modern Academic Standards, especially in media and cultural studies.

Doesn't stop me wanting to join the merry throng doing such studies, of course.

Billy said...

"Reading over these comments got me thinking about something i'd been sort of oblivious to before: when creating their web identities a lot of people associate themselves with someone famous. Right here we have Groucho Marx, Patroclus (of Iliad fame), Pavlov, and Chaucer." Fascinating, I've never really thought about that before. I'm not one of the "famous" although I did nearly name my blogging self 'Jessica Christ' before I realised passing off as a girl would be tricky.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

you're a dude? really? funny, i always assumed becuase of the cute bunny clip art that you were a girl! (and billy is not an unusual nickname for a girl in the States.) Well i'll be...

Billy said...

CB, yes I am a boy. Were I on Bullseye I'd get the tankard and not the goblet. :)

patroclus said...

Scroob: By all means keep sending me stuff - sometimes it's only your encouragement that keeps me going!

CB: The States has girls named Billy and boys named Sue? What a crazy, mixed-up country! Almost like the blogosphere!

cello said...

Sue ... and Shirley (John Wayne's real name). Mind you, best not to go looking for motes when we have men called Evelyn and Hilary.

Is Lionel(f) Shriver American?

ScroobiousScrivener said...

I knew someone who called her two daughters Mark and Kyle. She swears she wasn't wanting boys.

Heather said...

Yes Cello, Lionel Shriver is American. She was talking about it in the Guardian just the other day. She's lived in the UK for around 20 years though.

It is a really peculiar name for a woman I must admit.

tom l said...

have standards fallen, or has it long been the case that it's just hard to come up with something for a thesis? university libraries are stuffed with all sorts of doctoral nonsense. a search would probably find some amazing things - i remember one about the relationship between street lighting and the crime rate in washington dc neighborhoods (there were more crimes where it was darker, that's about the size of it)

patroclus said...

I've seen a doctoral thesis on the semiotics of people's avatars in LiveJournal. Which is just silly. Next, people will be writing huge academic tracts about the significance of describing actions between asterisks in comments threads.

Ahem.

Spinsterella said...

>>>Were I on Bullseye I'd get the tankard and not the goblet.

*giggles*

(I'm a girl, in case you were wondering.)

I'd never tell anyone in Real Life about my blog. The tragic name I've chosen is just one of the millions of reasons why it's just all too embarrassing.

cello said...

Actually I think I got John Waynes's real name wrong. It was Marion, not Shirley. Same point, though.

patroclus said...

My lovely and talented god-daughter has a boy's name. It's all good. Fluidity of names confounds the ideological state apparatuses, as Louis Althusser would have put it, which can only be a good thing.

In the real world, I have three possible surnames, and I keep fluctuating between two of them. Haven't unleashed the third on the world yet. But it makes you realise how unstable these supposedly fixed things really are - almost as unstable as they are online!

Chaucer's Bitch said...

John Wayne was named Marion? 'splains a lot...

Sean McManus said...

I think professional writers have higher expectations of their work than academics do. I shudder to think of the errors I saw in final degree projects written by today's teachers (including English teachers).

Regarding nice blog ideas: there were two people who were challenging each other to create pictures using doodles. It got plenty of press coverage a few months back, but I can't remember what it's called (sorry). Might be worth hunting down if it's relevant. Each day they would post up a picture they made using yesterday's doodle and a new doodle for their competitor to turn into art.

patroclus said...

That sounds like exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for, thanks Sean. Will track it down.

DavetheF said...

Avatar is a really glamorous word. I'm a bit worried that I don't actually have one, or at best a decidedly prosaic one.